From the Wetterhorn in 1854 to the Matterhorn in 1865 - from triumph to tragedy - the Alps were conquered in a decade. It was what Reverend W.A.B. Coolidge called the 'golden age of alpinism,' the era of the first great guides (Christian Almer, Melchoir Anderegg, Michel Croz) and gentlemen climbers (Leslie Stephen, John Tyndall, Edward Whymper). Almost all European Alpine clubs were founded during this period, crowned by the successful ascents of the Aiguille Verte, the Matterhorn, and the Brenva face of Mont Blanc. Summits were no longer scaled in the name of science, but for the beauty and difficulty of ascents that embodied the pleasure of the 'noble sport' of mountaineering, as invented during this golden decade. 1865: the Golden Age of Mountaineering, by Gilles Modica, documents this great time in the history of alpinism. Illustrated with 350 photographs and illustrations and lavishly produced, it is co-published in English and French by Vertebrate Publishing and Editions Paulsen.
Gilles Modica is an independent journalist who specialises in the history of mountaineering and exploration. He has written six books on the subject as well as numerous articles for Montagne magazine and Trek magazine. He was a top-level climber for fifteen years (1975-1990), notably completing six routes on the north face of the Grandes Jorasses (including the second ascent of the MacIntyre-Colton line in 1980), making solo climbs in the Alps and Peru, scaling the big walls of Yosemite, and racking up several first ascents (including the Ginat route on the Droites, and the Modica-Noury gully on Mont Blanc du Tacul). He is a member of France's elite Groupe de Haute Montagne (G.H.M.).
Introduction: 1865, the Golden Age of Mountaineering; Chapter 1: Early Ascents (1744-1854); Chapter 2: James David Forbes and Albert Smith; Chapter 3: The Wetterhorn - 17 September 1854; Chapter 4: Chamonix Guides - Auguste Balmat and Francois Devouassoud; Chapter 5: Chamois Hunters; Chapter 6: One Guide or Another - La Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix; Chapter 7: Charles Hudson - or Mont Blanc without Guides; Chapter 8: The Alpine Club; Chapter 9: John Ball and John Ruskin; Chapter 10: Johann Josef Bennen - First Attempts on the Matterhorn; Chapter 11: Conquering the Weisshorn; Chapter 12: The Race to the Matterhorn - John Tyndall and Edward Whymper; Chapter 13: John Tyndall (1820-1893); Chapter 14: Shaggy Natives, Gentlemen Travellers - Nutrition and Health; Chapter 15: Shaggy Natives, Gentlemen Travellers - Early Equipment and Techniques; Chapter 16: Leslie Stephen - The Schreckhorn; Chapter 17: Francis Fox Tuckett - At the Height of the Golden Age; Chapter 18: A.W. Moore - Keeping up the Pace, 20 June - 27 July 1864; Chapter 19: The Year 1865; Chapter 20: Edward Whymper - A Keen 'Wanter'; Chapter 21: The Matterhorn - Mr Whymper's White Trousers; Chapter 22: The Matterhorn - Taugwalder's Rope; Chapter 23: The Brenva Spur; Appendices: Major Alpine Firsts; Bibliography; Picture Credits; The Author; Acknowledgements; Viatimages and Viaticalpes.